Hand Drawn Maps!

by Beth Schechter and Danielle Dai

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There were two things I discovered in grad school that made me fall in love with maps: Stamen (thanks Carl) and Katherine Harmon’s You Are Here (thanks Carl there too, I think). The two in conjunction – one totally elegant and bold and generative, the other subjective and tactile and tender – together excited very different parts of my brain, which sparked and then exploded into what has become full blown love and curiosity for maps of all kinds (but especially the pretty ones).

As much as I love them, I must say digital maps are absolutely more pervasive in my life at the moment (doubt I’m alone there). Which is one of the many reasons why last month’s MaptimeSF on Hand Drawn Maps – led by Danielle Dai – was so wonderful. A room full of people got to look at map books and bring back good ol’ hand-drawn cartography. Ian Johnson brought some d3 printed projections to trace. And we all listened to Prince and made drawings and then had a show and tell and we’re totally doing it again because holy shit it was the best.

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Danielle gave the group some activities: either people could draw their commute, or they could draw a maps of some of their favorite places, or the places they have been. There were books to look at for inspiration, or even to trace…gently, with pencil, using tracing paper graciously provided.

The results were fantastic. Camille illustrated a beautiful watercolor map of “her likelihood of dying on her commute by bike” (dark, but beautiful, yes).  Others drew the world “because that’s where my commute takes me.”  As a delightful surprise, Danielle’s commute map and Brandon’s stunning perspective were made into mapcakes!  Woo mapcakes #winning


We love hand-drawn maps so much that we’re doing it again on October 8.  And, for critical discussion, a two-part #geowebchat on hand-drawn maps.  What is the role of hand-drawn maps in the digital age?  Do digital maps with hand-drawn styling (like the Stamen watercolor or pencils or Van Gogh) replace hand-drawn maps?  One thing’s for sure – it was a joy getting out that pen and paper!

More inspiration & activities here: https://github.com/ddai/hand-drawn-maps/
#geowebchat on hand-drawn maps, part 2 – show & tell & critique (Tue, Sep 16, 12pm PDT): http://mappingmashups.net/geowebchat/
Next Hand-Drawn Maptime (Wed, Oct 8, 6:30pm at StoreFront Lab): http://www.meetup.com/Maptime-SF/events/199510552/